Southern Maryland Community, Business Leaders Join CSM’s ‘Campaign for Next 50 Years’

Local community and business leaders are committed to ensuring that the College of Southern Maryland remains a vibrant asset to the community by joining in the CSM Foundation’s “Campaign for the Next 50 Years: Envision the Potential–Make a Difference.” The college’s first-ever major gifts campaign is a major milestone in the 50-year history of the community college.

“We are quite pleased with the support from the community and the success of this campaign to date. Even more, we are honored to have these business and community leaders come on board to help us achieve our goals for the college’s future,” said Campaign Chair and CEO of Besche Oil, Mike Besche, in announcing the co-chairs of the Advanced/Major Gifts committees for each county.

Calvert County co-chairs are St. Clair Tweedie of Broomes Island and Rosemary Keffler, an associate attorney with Davis, Upton & Palumbo, LLC.

“Too many young people either don’t see the need for higher education or don’t believe they can afford one. In fact, they can’t afford not to acquire one. Education and economic success in life are inseparable. While other factors come into play, without the education an individual is severely handicapped in his/her personal development,” said Tweedie. “CSM offers Southern Maryland’s young people an unparalleled opportunity for affordable quality higher education close to home. It offers the broader community a resource to acquire new knowledge and skills tailored to the needs of the community. It also offers the community a wide range of cultural programs and activities.”

“I am eager to use my experience to assist the college in developing and implementing lifetime giving opportunities for the community,” said Keffler, who is a former IRS employee and has a legal background in estate planning, real estate and business law.

Serving as co-chairs in Charles County are Greg Cockerham, executive vice president/chief lending officer for Community Bank of Tri-County, and Jay Lilly, branch vice president of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage.

“As an alum of the college and a local employer who hires its graduates I am honored to continue my participation with the College of Southern Maryland by participating on this campaign,” Cockerham said. “I’ve seen first-hand how the professors provide the inspiration, knowledge and opportunities that students need to push forward. The college provides the means for countless students to succeed no matter what their dreams and ambitions are. I am proud of how CSM has educated and trained many students of all ages that currently provide an employment base enabling many local businesses to keep their doors open. That’s why my bank and I are excited to support the college and its initiatives, and we will be encouraging our friends and neighbors to join us in that support,” he added.

One of Lilly’s special interests at CSM is the focus on training local students for careers in science, technology, nursing and engineering. “There are more and more opportunities coming to Southern Maryland. I watched the growth of Pax River during BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) and think CSM has done a wonderful job of responding to the community’s needs. CSM’s administration is interested in listening to the community and in tune with the community,” Lilly said, adding, “CSM is a real asset.”

St. Mary’s County co-chairs are Rick Tepel, CEO of Raley, Watts & O’Neill Insurance, and Ray Wernecke, CEO of Cherry Cove.

“I grew up in Southern Maryland and many of my friends have taken classes through the college. From the business side, I have seen how the college impacts the community through educational services, kids’ camps and community programs. CSM is an important component in community development, whether it’s anticipating the future workforce needs of the region and working with local businesses to develop training programs, enabling students to earn credits towards one of the college’s transfer agreements with regional and national four-year colleges, or educating and entertaining the community through forums, lecture series or the popular Twilight Performances. CSM really encourages people, including me, to become more engaged in the community,” Tepel said.

“I’ve always appreciated the fact that CSM really is the college of Southern Maryland in that so many people have benefited from the services the college provides whether it is corporate training, job-skill development or earning a degree. Over the years, CSM’s partnerships, like the one with NAVAIR, have shown their dedication to meeting the workforce development needs of the community,” said Wernecke.

The co-chairs are working with a team of volunteers who are providing information to other community members about the college and its campaign efforts.

Funds will support an Institute for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (ISTEM), and a Regional Center for Trades and Transportation; address local nursing and healthcare workforce shortages; focus on educational excellence, and endow a student scholarship fund for access and success.

Also working on the campaign have been CSM Foundation Chair Donald Parsons Jr., Foundation Directors Candice Quinn Kelly, Casey Smith, John McWilliams, Steve Proctor and Bill Sturgis, Trustee Representative Mike Middleton, and Campaign Manager Michelle Goodwin, CSM’s vice president of advancement.

CSM, founded in 1958, is the fifth largest community college in Maryland. In its 50-year history, the college has grown to be the centerpiece of Southern Maryland, becoming an integral part of the community it serves with campuses in Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties and more than 22,800 annual enrollments. From a first graduation class of four in 1960, the college has celebrated more than 15,400 graduates.

“Our students accomplish great things, and as we celebrate their success, we are positioning the college for the next 50 years. The money raised will be an investment that can help build a legacy and change the lives of your neighbors, employees and friends,” said CSM President Dr. Bradley Gottfried.

The College of Southern Maryland Foundation, Inc. is a not-for-profit, tax-exempt organization governed by a corporate board of directors. Established in 1970, the mission of the Foundation is to promote academic excellence, growth, progress, and the general welfare of the college. The Foundation raises and manages funds, and provides support to strengthen and develop the college, and its objectives.

For information, call 301-934-7649 or 301-870-2309, 240-725-5499 or 443-550-6199, Ext. 7649 or visit